Luxury in the Lap of Nature

Anithya Balachandran | July 29, 2022 | Life

There’s nothing more serene than indulging in the abundance of nature whilst being cocooned in a luxurious setting. It is a beautiful dichotomy that has become progressively popular over the last two years.

Luxurious holidays around wildlife sanctuaries allow people to break away from the mundane rigmarole of urbanisation whilst retaining the convenience of their metropolitan lives. This category of travel is gaining prominence and popularity due to the remote nature of these destinations.

It is no hidden secret that almost all of India is steeped in a densely royal history. Evolve Back, Kabini, is an example of royalty, wildlife and luxury merging on one path. Surrounded by panoramic vistas and bordered by the tranquil Kabini river, Evolve Back encapsulates a unique dimension to luxury alongside an immersive wildlife experience. The resort’s design draws inspiration from the tribal villages and has vibrant social elements of the local Kadu Kuruba tribe. A melange of traditional craft and modern luxury is apparent as the exteriors of the huts are subtle to enhance the surrounding landscape. Whereas, the interiors exude warmth and opulence with ethnic furniture such as the tribal patterned furnishings. A truly liberating experience offered by the property is their ‘Coracle Ride’. A ride on the serene river with the sun setting in the background as you watch the local fishermen reel in their catch of the day, makes one feel like that moment is a scene from their own life’s version of ‘Eat Pray Love’. The coracle is a small, rounded vessel which gives you a 360 degree view of the waterscape.

Evolve Back, Kabini.

Growing up in India, one of the first animals that you are taught to fear and be in awe of is the tiger. Tigers occupy an important place in Indian culture. For centuries, the wild cats have been a symbol of magnificence, power, beauty and fierceness and have been associated with bravery and valour. Alongside their cultural importance the tiger also has a significant place in Hindu mythology as the vehicle of the Goddess Durga. The home of the majestic Bengal tiger, Ranthambore National Park is a beautiful place to spot these wild beasts. The green and gold hues of the forest act as the perfect backdrop to Aman-i-Khás, Ranthambore. Located on the periphery of the renowned tiger reserve, the luxury wildlife resort is an embodiment of privacy and luxury and offers daily safaris for those keen to explore the reserve’s wildlife. The camp features ten expansive, luxurious tents that overlook the rugged, scenic landscape that is home to majestic wildlife. Each tent sprawls over 108 square metres of space and is tastefully decorated with classic furnishings. Guests can relax after an adventurous day in the light-filled bathing area that features a free-standing bathtub and shower. The luxury property offers multi-sensory journeys that impart traditional Ayurvedic wisdom alongside massages, the gentle healing touch of reiki and various scrubs, wraps and baths. When you are so close to nature, the most effective way to rejuvenate yourself is to partake in experiences that are distinctive of where you are. For example, if one wishes to further experience the healing powers of nature, I highly recommend participating in a private yoga session at the Ranthambore fort. This particular offering by the resort has been curated for those who truly wish to cut off from the chaos of their city lives.

Aman-i-Khás, Ranthambore.

A popular rising phenomenon within the travel sector are experiences that mirror magical elements of the past. The charm of the past coupled with the mystery of a time one hasn’t personally experienced heightens the value of such trips. A Relais & Châteaux property – SUJAN Sher Bagh, Ranthambore intends to evoke nostalgia of the wildlife safari experience from a bygone era, where people lived elegantly under canvas tents, whilst on safari. Their ‘tented jungle suites’ draw inspiration from the adventurous charm of old-world safari camps in India. Each double suite has a brand-new en suite bathroom featuring a brass bathtub and open stone shower. Glass and canvas walls open onto a private verandah overlooking wild jungle greenery. The luxury property pays specific attention to its carefully designed menus that combine Anglo-Indian and European lunch experiences, with traditional Indian dinners that are cooked on earthy outdoor clay ovens. The ingredients each meal comprises are handpicked from the herb and vegetable garden and the Sher Bagh Farm. Interactive experiences such as live cooking, where guests are invited and encouraged to participate in, is a pleasant end to an arduous day of tracking wildlife in the jungle. The highlight of staying at SUJAN Sher Bagh is witnessing the tigers in their natural habitat. Apart from predominantly being the home to the tigers, other animals commonly seen are the wild boar, deer, antelope and monkey. Ornithology enthusiasts can marvel at the swarms of birds that have migrated from Europe and Siberia in the winter.

SUJAN Sher Bagh, Ranthambore.

We have all heard the overused phrase – “go with the flow” and often resent anyone who says it because of the supplementary looming question of “how?” always unsettles us. What if I told you, that there are places where this phrase not only graciously floats in the air but it is the adopted way of living. Nestled in a small village named after the river Jawai, Brij Pola, Rajasthan, pays homage to the gifts given to mankind by nature. The luxury tents are large enough to be small homes to allow guests a homely feeling in the heart of the jungle. Each room features plush beds, handmade wallpaper, hand-knotted carpets and so many more handcrafted elements. The most endearing part of the tent is the natural, modern bathtub, carved from a single piece of stone, from which one can bask in the glorious views of the Aravalli mountains. A particularly fascinating experience the resort offers is the breakfast with peacocks, as guests can join a muster of peacocks as they enjoy their breakfast by the Pola cave located at the edge of the property. Jawai is known to be home to an extensive range of wildlife ranging from panthers, hyenas, chinkaras, nilgai, bears, and wolves. However, it is predominantly known for its human-friendly leopards. Even if you aren’t a morning person, the enthralling experience of waking up at the crack of dawn to head out on an early morning safari to spot wild animals in their natural habitat is an unmissable one.

Brij Pola, Rajasthan.

If you feel fatigued when you think about adventures in the wild, this particular luxury property is here to reverse that feeling. Aramness, Gir is an amalgamation of the Gujarati words aram (peace/rest) and ness (local village). The boutique lodge that borders the Sasan Gir National Park- home to the last remaining Asiatic lions in the world, co-exist with the semi-nomadic Maldhari tribe. The lodge’s architecture sought inspiration from the local village, Haripur, with its central cobbled streets fringed with courtyard homes (kothis). Each suite or kothi is a commodious double storey building that draws on the honesty of materials and the sophistication of simplicity, with either one or two ground floor bedrooms in each, a sitting room, a luxurious and spacious bathroom with a tub and shower, as well as an outdoor shower. All the kothis have a shaded courtyard and a first-floor veranda which overlooks waterways and the dense teak forest. Boredom is a far fetched feeling at this particular property as guests have multiple ways in which they can spend their day. From sunrise game drives into the park, jungle walks in the teak forest, visiting a Maldhari family in their home; one can choose to reap the benefits of nature, culture and luxurious amenities all in one place.

Aramness, Gir.

Luxury wildlife travel is no longer about merely breaking away from the normalcy of reality, but has become an opportunity to learn about various cultures and partake in immersive experiences that reinforce the majestic impact of nature on mankind. As the beloved poet Robert Frost once wrote and fantasised about the road not taken, we now have the privilege and resources to explore all off-beat paths whilst being cocooned by luxury.

Words by Anithya Balachandran.
Cover Image via SUJAN Sher Bagh.
Additional Images via Evolve Back Kabini, SUJAN Sher Bagh, Brij Pola, Aman-i-Khas, and Aramness.

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